Maggie Kilbourne-Brook, Program Officer, PATH
Women need greater access to barrier options that are safe, easy to use, and acceptable. The contraceptive diaphragm is approved and available in some countries, but distribution and acceptability are limited for many reasons including supply, procurement logistics, and provider attitudes. The design of standard diaphragms can make them difficult to handle. The SILCS Diaphragm—an innovative, single-size, reusable cervical barrier—overcomes obstacles that have limited the use of traditional diaphragms. The SILCS Diaphragm offers affordable and reliable contraception without the necessity of having a trained provider determine which size fits best. The SILCS device could be provided over the counter where regulatory authority and clinical practice allow and offers discreet, intermittent, non-hormonal barrier protection.
Women and couples co-designed the SILCS Diaphragm through iterative evaluations in four countries over ten years. US researchers recently completed the contraceptive effectiveness study needed for US Food and Drug Administration approval. Data from all studies confirm the SILCS Diaphragm is easy to use and acceptable for both women and their partners, even when women have no previous diaphragm experience. Patents are pending worldwide. Conclusion: With an estimated 120 million couples around the world expressing an unmet need for contraception, PATH anticipates good market potential for the SILCS device. The device should appeal to women in the United States and Western Europe who currently use barrier methods as well as women in low-resource settings who value a new, cost-effective, and easy-to-use protection option.
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